Program Overview

Counseling for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders presents professionals with a broad range of challenges and opportunities. Clinical effectiveness and systems change require mastery of strong person-centered skills in combination with a thorough grounding in best practices. The Master of Science in Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling graduates counselors who are change agents, those committed to supporting individuals, families and communities in defining and fostering wellness. The program is strongly centered on building advanced clinical skills, implementing best practices that are community responsive, demonstrating anti-oppressive care and striving for ethical excellence. Graduates qualify for licensure as Alcohol and Drug Counselors and Professional Counselors in the state of Minnesota.


* indicates a course currently pending approval

Foundation Courses (16 credits)

HSCD 600 Foundations, models and evidence-based practices
HSCD 601 Theory and Practice of cognitive-behavioral therapies
HSCD 602 Advanced Motivitational Interviewing: Practice & Supervision
HSCD 603 Ethics and Professional Practice
*HSCD 611 Culturally Responsive and Anti-Oppressive Practice
HSCD 650 Evaluation and Utilization of Research

Other Core Curricula (36 credits)

HSCD 610 Evidence-based Group Counseling
*HSCD 612 Family Counseling
*HSCD 613 Career Development Theory and Practice
HSCD 620 Psychopharmacology
* HSCD 630 Integrated Care: Screening and Assessment
* HSCD 631 Treatment and Recovery Planning
HSCD 632 Integrated Care: Harm Reduction and Case Management
* HSCD 635 Integrated Care: Advanced Implementation of Evidence-based practices
HSCD 640 Clinical Supervison
PSYC 611 Advanced Lifespan Developmental Psychology
PSYC 618 Program Evaluation
* PSYC 648 Psychopathology

Research Experience (4 credits)
* HSCD 651
* Student-designed Independent Study: Master's Project

Field Experience (4 credits)
*HSCD 681 Practicum I
HSCD 682 Practicum II

Program Outcomes

Graduates of the MS in Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling:

  • Cultivate the advanced clinical skills that form the foundation of effective counseling.
  • Integrate person- and community-responsive practices into a broad spectrum of care provision.
  • Apply best practices in clinical and community-based settings in ways that honor both fidelity and cultural appropriateness and specificity.
  • Distinguish key elements of the investigative process and scholarly review, with an appreciation for their strengths and limitations. 
  • Examine and appraise the evidence base for specific best practices utilized in co-occurring disorders counseling.
  • Critique the evidence base for specific best practices in co-occurring disorders counseling with regard to multicultural inclusion and anti-oppressive practices.
  • Formulate a personal commitment to anti-oppressive practices and a plan for implementing such practices in clinical and community-based settings.
  • Evaluate the principles of ethical behavior and decision-making and create a personal code of professional ethics.
  • Demonstrate healthy personal behavior and self-care consistent with culturally and personally appropriate standards of health and wellness.
  • Demonstrate written and verbal communication skills at a professional level that supports effective practice.
  • Qualify for the state of Minnesota LADC (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor) and LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor).
  • Complete all pre-degree requirements for the state of Minnesota LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, for which post-degree practice is also required).

More information about this program

Admission Criteria

This is a summary listing only. See the applying page for full details on application requirements, admission criteria, and deadline information.

  • Graduate application
  • $20 non-refundable application fee (waived for graduates of Metropolitan State University)
  • Official transcripts
  • Three professional references
  • Current resume
  • Admission essay

Transfer Credits

Up to 12 credits may be transferred from other graduate studies. The Program Coordinator reviews prior coursework for transfer eligibility. The course work must have been taken from a regionally accredited university. The credits that are being requested for transfer must have been taken at the graduate level (a course number of 500 or higher). A course is eligible for transfer only if no degree was granted and a letter grade of B or better was earned in the course, and the course was taken within five years of admission.

Additional Information

Academic Standing

Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain in the graduate program and to maintain financial aid eligibility. Only courses with a letter grade of B- (2.67) or better count toward degree requirements; a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required for graduation. Grading in the program is letter grade only; pass/fail grading is not an option.

A letter grade of C+ (2.33) or below in any graduate course results in being placed on academic probation. A letter grade of C+ or below in two courses results in being dismissed from the graduate program. Under such circumstances, application for readmission may be undertaken after one calendar year has passed. To reapply, the student must submit an updated resume, a letter indicating what circumstances have changed, and a plan for successfully completing the program. The admissions committee reviews the request and responds in writing.

Time to Completion

Full-time students (8 credits per semester) complete the program in three years. Part-time students (5-6 credits per semester) complete the program in four years.


Resident Faculty: Therissa Libby (program coordinator), Derrick Crim, Kevin Spading, Glen Spielmans; Community Faculty: Layla Asamarai, Tamarah Gehlen, Deborah Moses, Amanda Richards, Ken Roberts

Contact Information

After reviewing the information provided on the website, if you have specific questions regarding the MS in Co-occurring Disorders Recovery Counseling, you may email General questions about the applying process can be directed to

Additional Program Information 

How Admissions Works

We are looking forward to you joining us. Take the first step by filling out this application.
Course List


Requirements ( 60 total credits)

Foundation Courses (16 credits)

Refer to the left for additional courses pending approval in this category

  • HSCD 600 Foundations, Models and Evidence-Based Practices
    3 credits

    This course provides an advanced survey of the history of the alcohol and drug counseling discipline, the foundations of the practice of alcohol and drug counseling, and current evidence-based practices that are informing practice and improving outcomes. Students review the historical, social, cultural, theoretical and epidemiological foundations of alcohol and drug counseling; utilize this foundation to explore the scientific research that underpins theories of addiction; explore and critique evidence-based practices and interventions that produce positive behavior change those receiving alcohol and drug counseling services; and discuss the future of the profession.

  • HSCD 601 Theory and Practice of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies
    3 credits

    In this course, students explore cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs) and their application to substance use disorders counseling (SUDC) and co-occurring disorders counseling (CODC). Theory, research base and practice are all emphasized. In considering the theoretical base of CBTs, students investigate the research and service gaps in multicultural application of these interventions. The course includes a practice dimension that allows students to advance their skills in using multiple cognitive-behavioral approaches with clients in SUDC and CODC.

  • HSCD 602 Advanced Motivational Interviewing: Practice and Supervision
    2 credits

    This course focuses on motivational interviewing (MI) skills. Students consider the theory, research base and practice of MI. Building on this knowledge, students are guided through practice exercises and skill-building sessions. These include recording and coding of mock counseling sessions, which are designed to build student proficiency in utilization of this key component of alcohol and drug counseling.

  • HSCD 603 Ethics and Professional Practice
    2 credits

    This course provides advanced understanding of the ethical and professional responsibilities of alcohol and drug counselors. The course explores specific components of ethical theories, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Alcohol and Drug Counselors in Minnesota, the ethical decision-making process, and application to specific clinical cases. Emphasis is placed on thoughtful consideration of ethically ambiguous and/or morally charged situations, on engaging in dialogue with peers to help resolve them, and on each student's personal biases as they affect decision-making. Attention is also given to the role of self-care in maintaining professionalism.

  • HSCD 650 Evaluation and Utilization of Research
    3 credits

    This course is designed to expand understanding of formal and informal investigations relevant to alcohol and drug counseling, and to guide students in evaluating research and incorporating research results into counseling practice. Students endeavor to become proficient in searching, evaluating and critiquing scientific literature, particularly that regarding evidence-based practices and clinical outcomes evaluation in alcohol and drug counseling. Students also critically assess research with regard to the populations on which it is performed and on which its evaluation instruments are normed. This course provides the foundation for the Masters Project, as students determine the topic areas of their projects and consider how to implement them with underserved populations.

Other Core Curricula (36 credits)

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  • HSCD 610 Evidence-Based Group Counseling
    3 credits

    In this course, students investigate group theories, dynamics and processes at an advanced level. Emphasis is placed on the foundations of group facilitation and on application of motivational interviewing skills, cognitive behavioral strategies and other evidence-based practices to group counseling. Students gain advanced knowledge and capacities in process, dynamics, developmental stages, leadership and ethical issues involved facilitating group work in substance use disorders counseling (SUDC) and co-occurring disorders counseling (CODC). Students participate in a classroom-based skills development group as part of this course.

  • HSCD 620 Psychopharmacology
    3 credits

    Course description: This course provides a broad understanding of psychopharmacology related to substance use and co-occurring disorders. Following a review of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and synaptic and behavioral mechanisms of addictive drugs, the course focuses on medications used to treat substance use and psychiatric disorders. Students distinguish among the major classes of psychotherapeutic and anti-addiction medications, and evaluate the evidence base for clinical effectiveness of psychiatric medications for co-occurring disorders and medication-assisted treatments for substance use disorders.

  • HSCD 632 Integrated Care: Harm Reduction and Case Management
    3 credits

    This course introduces the philosophical underpinnings of public health approaches to and case management of substance use and co-occurring disorders. Students gain knowledge and understanding of the history, principles and strategies of harm reduction interventions, as well as knowledge of and proficiency in delivering specific brief interventions that have been shown to reduce both risky behavior and its consequences. Students also review the principles of and strategies for effective case management in substance use and co-occurring disorders counseling, and create a broad database of case management resources. Significant attention is paid to culturally specific considerations and strategies, and students consider issues of gender, race, class and age when reviewing access to and appropriateness of services.

  • HSCD 640 Clinical Supervision
    3 credits

    This course is designed to prepare students for effective clinical supervision in the provision of services for those with substance use and co-occurring disorders. Topics include elements of supervision, enhancing effectiveness of supervision, managing the supervisory relationship, and ethical and legal concerns that supervisors may be required to address. Consideration is given to power structures, pitfalls and cross-cultural issues encountered in supervisory relationships, and to supervision as a partnership in support of superior client care and professional goals.

  • PSYC 611 Advanced Lifespan Developmental Psychology
    4 credits

    Lifespan developmental psychology reviews a variety of advanced concepts, theories and principles of human development from conception, prenatal development, and young adulthood through late adulthood. This course will emphasize the cognitive, physical and social aspects of development from a topical approach and review important contemporary as well as classic theories addressing lifespan development. Discussions will include a variety of contemporary topics of developmental psychology (i.e., Gender differences in behaviors, ADHD; Childhood obesity, styles of play and cultural parenting practices) from a variety of scholarly journal articles. Other key topics that will be addressed include research design in developmental psychology, maturation, cross-cultural topics relative to parenting and lifespan development, human growth experiences and the various stages of physical development as key components influencing human behaviors.

  • PSYC 618 Program Evaluation
    4 credits

    Learn how to utilize research skills in the applied area of program evaluation, including conceptualization, roles as evaluators, planning and implementing an evaluation, as well as analyzing and reporting results to stakeholders and participants. The strengths and weaknesses of various quantitative and qualitative methods of program evaluation are discussed, emphasizing an awareness of and sensitivity to potential cultural, class, and gender differences in the evaluation process. Students engage in a community-based program evaluation hands-on project.

Research Application (4 credits)

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Clinical Application (4 credits)

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  • HSCD 682 Practicum II
    0 credits

    This series continues the practicum program begun in HSCD 681, and fosters greater independence in utilizing the advanced knowledge and skills acquired during their academic coursework. Students continue under site and faculty supervision as they take on advanced intern-level duties in clinical or community-based settings. Field placements allow students to complete the internship hours required for licensure as both alcohol and drug counselors and professional counselors in Minnesota, while obtaining essential mentorship and networking for employment in the field following completion of graduate studies. The classroom portion of the course allows students to review and critically analyze counseling style, anti-oppressive practice, ethical issues and the practicum setting.